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Korean Army Restructuring Will Cut Number of Corps and Divisions by Half

Korean Army Restructuring Will Cut Number of Corps and Divisions by Half

Posted September. 06, 2005 07:13,   


South Korea will restructure its army on a large scale, integrating the 1st and 3rd Army headquarters into a unified operations headquarters until 2010, and cutting the number of army corps and divisions by half until 2020.

This is the main objective of the military reform plan that the Defense Ministry reported to President Roh Moo-hyun on September 1, the ministry said on September 5.

“The ministry decided to integrate the 1st and 3rd Army headquarters into a unified ground operations headquarters, and transformed the 2nd Army headquarters into an operations headquarters backing up in the rear,” said a senior official from the ministry.

He added that the ministry is also considering shutting down two rear corps, reducing the number of army corps by half to leave only six, and downsizing the current 49 Army divisions to 20 until 2020.

The Defense Ministry has been known to hold consultations on letting guard brigades be in charge of keeping watch on the military demarcation line and giving the police the authority to watch the beaches near the demarcation line.

The number of soldiers will also be cut from the current 681,000 to 640,000 by 2008, and then it will be further reduced in three stages to 500,000 by 2020. In this regard, the Army troops will be downsized from the current 550,000 to 350,000 in 2020.

The Defense Ministry is also considering a “paid volunteer system,’” which allows those who have completed their compulsory military service to serve in the military for an additional period of time, and pays them a certain level of wages. Along with that, the current 3,040,000 reservist army troops will be reduced to 1,500,000, and many local reserve army corps will be merged too, according to the ministry.

Not only that, in order to avoid any loss of security from the military restructuring and downsizing in the number of troops, the Defense Ministry plans to establish an integrated operations headquarters that will control the army’s multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) and self-propelled artillery, which will operate against North Korea’s long-range artillery.

Regarding the reform, worries have emerged in and outside of the military that considering the high tension along the heavily fortified border between North and South, a large reduction of troops could easily trigger serious side effects such as a gap in security.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com